WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles
on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday
evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300
enthusiastic Penn State fans.
More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The
Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to
Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five
different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach
James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May
3 in Harrisburg.
"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you
to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the
state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you
and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and
the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is
The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers.
Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh
Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic
F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.
The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ
Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named
"Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus
and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities
on the road.
The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams,
executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire
on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has
been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in
the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan
stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and
incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give
Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.
A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums
that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight
spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks
on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and
it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the
And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver
Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for
the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has
wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states
and the District of Columbia.
We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look
through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.
Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn
Allentown - I-78) Video: Lehigh Valley Press Conference
NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City
and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.
After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to
Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through
highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches
Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th
Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's
always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple,
and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers,
James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.
On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in
the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened
the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.
With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year
ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion
basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison
Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the
Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.
"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like
Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.
In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling
Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark
the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and
Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the
Blue and White.
"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very
excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we
are excited to come back."
New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent
a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to
Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was
in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured
the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and
shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the
game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on
the streets of NYC.
Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson,
whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers
also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the
trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are
not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine
when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.
The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic
program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities
feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled
with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current
VIDEO: New York City Press Conference
Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was
held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the
Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.
Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that
had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the
stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some
Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the
Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the
events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public
setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an
ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.
No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach
Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of
the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the
talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey,
native and All-American Ariel Scott.
"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the
time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.
Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on
stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he
rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has
ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd.
That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.
"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the
passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's
what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you
Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech
that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is
in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16
He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he
addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football
today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."
The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh
Valley and Wilkes-Barre.
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Caravan Total - 1,042 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
PHILADELPHIA - Leg
two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops
before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.
The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center
parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No.
7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through
highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches
Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in
attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley,
featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ
Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have
four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking
to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.
Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for
Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown
Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his
"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director
of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.
Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.
"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers
The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage.
Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the
Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten
Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the
program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place
Chambers is excited about.
"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right
direction. We are getting there. It is a process."
Rose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for
the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves,
as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that
he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about
the well being of Penn State as a whole.
"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose
said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we
Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in
college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The
process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach
"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing,"
Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."
Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the
first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football
program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that
goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.
"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone
sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.
All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University,
largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school
and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals
receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.
"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than
the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said
VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference
Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County
Hotel) Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to
Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the
childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended
the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel. Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister
Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a
special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the
leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown.
At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo
booth line before surprising Franklin. "It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big
part of my life, and it's really cool to be back. The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the
Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the
program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the
"why" is for the growth and development of the department. "It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about
delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800
student-athletes. You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why"
than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin. Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about
Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought
the room to a roar. He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience
finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm
to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans
Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an
athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State
means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader
for 36 years.
"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion
you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.
Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday
evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are
"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said
The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.
VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video
Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Caravan Total - 935 miles
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown etched his place into Penn State wrestling lore
with a dramatic 5-4 victory in the 2015 NCAA title match at 174 pounds on
Saturday night inside the Scottrade Center.
A model student-athlete in every sense of the word, Brown became Penn State's
23rd national champion (29 overall titles) in unique fashion on a locked hands
technical point at the buzzer in the third period. Nevertheless, Brown earned
the victory and will forever be a member of an elite club in wrestling history.
"When you're a little kid you dream of hitting that grand
slam in the ninth inning, and sometimes it's a bunt," Brown said. "Still get
the job done."
Brown will finish a stellar Penn State career with a 118-16 overall record. A
three-time All-American, the Utah native notched his third-straight finish in
the top five at the national tournament this season. A tireless worker on and
off the mat, Brown is a humble national champion for the Penn State Blue and
"Pretty cool. I didn't expect the match to end like that.
But that's how the ball bounces and it landed my way this time," said Brown.
As a team, the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will come
to a close at four, but Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with
a very young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions totaled five
All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their
respective weight classes. With Brown's national championship, the Nittany Lions
finished with 26 total victories and 67.5 points at the 2015 national
Final Team Standings 1. Ohio State - 102.0
2. Iowa - 84.0
3. Edinboro - 75.5
4. Missouri - 73.5
5. Cornell - 71.5
6. Penn State - 67.5
It's rare to come across a student-athlete more deserving of success than
Brown. One of the most polite individuals you will ever meet off the mat, Brown
is a tenacious wrestler with a never-ending motor in the circle. His march
through the 174-pound draw featured a pair of majors and three-straight victories
that were decided by one point.
Battling eighth-seeded Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh) in the national title match,
Brown trailed 1-0 after two periods before a frenetic third. The Nittany Lion
senior escaped to start the third to make it a 1-1 match. Brown added a
takedown for a 3-1 lead. Wilps added an escape and then scored a takedown of
his own to claim a 4-3 lead in the final 20 seconds. But Brown was not done.
Awarded a stalling point in the final four seconds, Brown and Wilps finished
the match off with the score tied at 4-4. Looking like a bout destined for
sudden victory, the officials reviewed and awarded Brown a point for a Wilps locked
hands violation, thus giving Brown his first national championship.
"I was disappointed I gave up the late takedown, but felt
confident I could get away still and tie up the match," said Brown. "Had a
tough ride, kind of just trying to get the time off the clock. Once the
challenge started I felt comfortable because I knew he locked hands, and I was
trying to point that out." Brown's approach to the Penn State program has been team-first every second he
has been in Happy Valley. He has the utmost respect from his fellow teammates
and coaching staff. "I just know how important it has been for Matt to be a national champion,"
head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's been talking about being a national
champion since we first started recruiting him many years ago. He's done
everything we've asked him to do, the little things...I'm very happy for him. I'm
very proud of him. He did a great job. And Matt Brown is a national champion." Simply put, no one has deserved the opportunity to have his hand raised on the
sport's ultimate stage than Brown. He is a first-class individual with an
infectious personality, who has been truly grateful for the opportunity to be a
student-athlete. "He's a kid who has done everything we have
asked," head assistant coach Casey Cunningham said. "He's one of the hardest
workers we've ever had. He's a 4.0 (GPA) student...He's the type of kid you never
worry about outside the room. You know he is doing the right things in leading
the young guys. He's just been a pleasure to work with." As Coach Sanderson succinctly put it, Matt Brown is a national champion for
Penn State. And he will wear the crown with nothing but dignity and class. The 2015 NCAA Championships are now complete. And attention has already turned
to next season's national tournament, which will take place inside Madison
Square Garden from March 15-17. Mark your calendars. The program will celebrate
Brown's achievement, but the team has an eye on what lies ahead in the future.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions 125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3
- Eighth Place (All-American) 133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American) 149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete 174: #2 Matt Brown (29-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION (All-American) 184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete 197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American) 285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
ST. LOUIS -By no means was the road to the top
line of the consolation bracket and easy one for Morgan McIntosh on Saturday
morning, but the junior knocked off a pair of top seeds on Saturday to cap off
a strong run through the back draw en route to finishing third at 197 pounds
during the medal round of the NCAA Championships.
McIntosh downed top-seeded J'Den Cox (Missouri) in the consolation semifinals
before defeating fifth-seeded Scott Schiller (Minnesota) in the third-place
match. Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon also won his final match of the tournament to
finish in fifth spot at 133 pounds.
In addition to McIntosh and Gulibon, Jordan Conaway (125) and Jimmy Lawson
(285) wrapped up competition in the medal round on Saturday morning. Conwaway
finished eighth and Lawson was sixth. All five Lions in action on Saturday will
head home as All-Americans for 2015.
While the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will end at
four, Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a young team.
That being said, the Nittany Lions had five All-Americans, including three
wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With
McIntosh's two wins and one from Gulibon, Penn State finished the fifth session
with 63.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the
Session V Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 94.0 (3 Finalists)
2. Iowa - 84.0. (1 Finalist)
3. Edinboro - 75.5 (2 Finalists)
4. Missouri - 69.5 (1 Finalist)
5. Cornell - 67.5 (2 Finalists)
6. Penn State - 63.5 (1 Finalist)
Entering the week as the Big Ten champion and second overall seed, McIntosh
looked to be a prime candidate to wrestle in the national final at 197 pounds.
But a narrow 3-2 setback in the quarterfinals sent the California native to the
McIntosh knew the Nittany Lions were counting on him to rebound after the loss,
and he did so with a vengeance. Between Friday evening and Saturday morning,
McIntosh rattled off four-straight victories in the back draw on his way to
third. The list included three-straight over top six seeds in the 197-pound
"It hurts to take a loss like that and know you can't get on the top of the
podium this year, but I've learned over the years to put it in the past and not
dwell on it," said McIntosh. "You can't think about what could have been or
what you could have done. You can take away a lesson to learn from it, but you
can't dwell on it and have negative thoughts in your head because that's just
going to bring you down when you need to step up in wrestlebacks."
His first bout on Saturday featured a showdown with the No. 1 wrestler at 197. Down
1-0 after the first period against No. 1 Cox, McIntosh roared to an escape and
takedown in the third period for a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinals. Then,
he wasted little time grabbing a lead in the third-place match against Schiller.
McIntosh used a pair of first-period takedowns for 4-1 edge. He added two
reversals and a third takedown for a 12-7 victory to claim third.
The junior finished a stellar season with a 32-3 overall record and a Big Ten
title. McIntosh will have 365 days to wait, but he is primed to make a run in
next year's national tournament.
Gulibon also showed a great deal of grit during the week in St. Louis. Like
everyone in the lineup, the 133-pound sophomore had aspirations of being on the
stage in the finals on Saturday night. He fell just short in Friday's
semifinals in a 7-5 decision against Iowa's Cory Clark. Gulibon dropped his
first match on Saturday, but he battled back with a 9-5 win over Mason Beckman
"(In a way), I'm glad I got fifth because it will serve as great motivation
during the offseason," Gulibon said. "I need to work on finishing shots in the
offseason, but everyone wrestled well (this week), and I'm looking forward to
Lawson finished sixth after coming up short in a 6-0 decision against Iowa's
Bobby Telford, but will finish as an All-American. Conaway came home with an
eighth place finish at 125 pounds after yielding a last-second takedown to
Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara in the seventh-place match. Nonetheless, the junior
finished 2015 as an All-American.
All eyes now shift towards the national finals. Matt Brown will wrestle on the
sport's grandest stage in the 174-pound final on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN).
The championship finals will begin at 149 pounds, so Brown and Tyler Wilps of
Pitt will wrestle in the fourth match on the lineup. Brown beat Wilps by a
score of 6-5 at the Southern Scuffle in January.
"He is one of my best friends on the team, and he has been awesome," McIntosh
said. "I'm so happy for him. He deserves this more than anyone. He's been a
great partner (in the wrestling room), a great mentor and a great friend. I
respect him a ton. I'm so excited to watch him."
The Nittany Lion senior is Penn State's 16th finalist since 2010. And by virtue
of Brown competing in the final, it marks the sixth-straight year that a
Nittany Lion is a national finalist.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3
- Eighth Place (All-American)
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)
ST. LOUIS - Following a 1-0 victory in the national semifinals on Friday
evening, senior Matt Brown is headed to the 174-pound national title match at
the NCAA Championships.
The undoubted team leader for Nittany Lion wrestling will compete in the
tournament final for the second time in three seasons on Saturday inside the Scottrade Center. Brown's semifinal victory
headlined a day where five Penn State wrestlers earned All-America honors in
"It was a tough semifinal match against Mike Evans of Iowa," Brown said. "He's
a tough competitor. I was fortunate to come out with the W. It was a close match."
In addition to Brown, Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Morgan
McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) are All-Americans for 2015 and remain
alive in the consolation bracket.
In all, Penn State will have five wrestlers in action on Saturday, with one in
the finals (Brown), three in the consolation semifinals (Gulibon, McIntosh and
Lawson) and one in a seventh place bout (Jordan Conaway). Fueled by Brown's win
in the semifinals, Penn State finished the fourth session of the tournament with 58.0 total
points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.
Session IV Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 86.5 (3 Finalists/2 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 73. (1 Finalist/5 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 66.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
4. Edinboro - 64.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 60.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)
6. Penn State - 58.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)
Wrestling for the third time since Feb. 8, Brown and Mike Evans are no strangers to
one another. And like the first two meetings between the two, Friday's
semifinal tilt was a chess match between two guys who are tough to score
against. Coming into the match, neither wrestler had given up a takedown during the tournament. And that did not change after seven minutes of action in the semifinals.
After a scoreless first period, Brown started in the down position to start the
second. He popped free for an escape point and a 1-0 lead after two frames.
However, rather than start in the down position to begin the third period like
he did in the previous two meetings this season, Evans chose the neutral
position in the third. Down 1-0, the Iowa senior went on the attack with shot attempt after shot attempt in the
latter stages of the match, but Brown was not going to be denied an opportunity
to wrestle on the stage Saturday night.
"Just keep wrestling tough. That was one thing. I wanted to go in and wrestle
through every position, and I was able to do that," Brown said. "I wasn't able
to get the takedown like I wanted. But in the Big Ten finals, I gave up some
scrambles. That was something I was trying to work on consciously."
Saturday evening will be Brown's second appearance on the sport's biggest
stage. The Utah native dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to No. 1 Chris Perry
(Oklahoma State) in the 174-pound final in 2013. Brown has that experience in
the back of his mind, and he has learned from it.
"Two years ago was the first time I was here at the NCAA Tournament," said
Brown. "I wasn't complacent at all, but I was ecstatic just to be in the finals
and I wrestled a really tough match and ended up dropping in overtime in a
loss. But I didn't celebrate after my quarters becoming an All-American,
because that's not my goal. I'll have a chance to achieve that tomorrow."
Gulibon's semifinal match against Iowa's Cory Clark featured a frenetic pace
from start to finish. After a scoreless first, Gulibon got on the board with a
reversal early in the second period. Clark scored an escape point and then
secured a takedown for a 3-2 lead after two. In the third, Clark's lead grew to
6-2 with an escape and takedown. Gulibon notched an escape and a takedown to
make it 6-5, but with riding time, Clark moved into the national semifinals
with a 7-5 victory.
The Nittany Lion sophomore has wrestled very well in St. Louis, but came up
just shy of finishing a takedown shot when the match was 4-2 in the third.
Clark countered for a takedown and a 6-2 lead. The margin for error is
incredibly thin when it comes to the national tournament. Nonetheless, Gulibon
is very much alive in the race for third.
Joining Gulibon in the consolation semifinals will be McIntosh (197) and Lawson
(285). Both McIntosh and Lawson notched two victories on Friday evening to
remain alive in the race for third spot at their respective weight classes.
For Lawson, his journey to the starting lineup was by no means easy as a Nittany Lion wrestler, but the
New Jersey native is now an All-American and will have the opportunity to wear
the Penn State singlet one more time on Saturday.
"It hasn't been easy, but it means a lot to me (to be an All-American)," Lawson said. "Obviously, I
wanted to have the chance to wrestle for a title, but being a senior and having
the chance to wrestle for third is something I'm really looking forward to."
Session five begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The fifth session is
the medal round, with consolation action leading up to the third, fifth and
seventh place matches.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-8) - 4-2
- Seventh Place Match (All-American) Up Next: Seventh Place Match vs. No. 7 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State)
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-8) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American) Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round
vs. No. 9 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro)
ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown (174) and sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (133) will
represent the Nittany Lion wrestling team in the NCAA semifinals on Friday
evening inside the Scottrade Center.
Brown and Gulibon earned victories in the quarterfinal round of the national
tournament en route to All-American status during the third session of the NCAA
Championships. The two wins earned Penn State's 190th and 191st
All-America accolades. Head coach Cael Sanderson has now had 28 All-America
honors during his six-year tenure as head coach.
The Lions went 2-3 in quarterfinal action on Friday. Matt McCutcheon (184),
Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will each wrestle in the
consolation round of 12 on Friday evening after coming up short in the
quarterfinals. Jordan Conaway (125) put together a strong session with two
victories in consolation action to punch a ticket into the consolation round of
12, as well.
In all, Penn State will have six wrestlers in action on Friday evening, with two
in the semifinals and four in the consolation bracket. Thanks the pair of
semifinal berths, Penn State finished the third session with 33.5 total points
in the team race. The Nittany Lions are eighth in the standings.
Session III Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 64.5
(5 Main Draw/0 Consolation) 2. Iowa - 47.5 (3 Main Draw/4 Consolation) 3. Missouri - 45.0 (3 Main Draw/ 4 Consolation)
4. Cornell - 41.5 (3 Main Draw/1 Consolation)
5. Edinboro - 40.5 (3 Main Draw/2 Consolation) 6. Nebraska - 36.5 (1 Main Draw/5 Consolation) 7. Oklahoma State - 36.0 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation) 8. Penn State - 33.5 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation)
Gulibon kick-started Penn State's morning with a strong effort against
Wisconsin's Ryan Taylor. The Nittany Lion sophomore wrestled the second-seeded
Taylor at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Taylor used a takedown in
sudden victory to beat Gulibon, 7-5.
With that match on his mind, Gulibon knew he needed a quick start in Friday's
quarterfinal match. The Latrobe native scored the first takedown of the match
and notched two near-fall points for a 4-0 lead after one period. Taylor
quickly answered with a pair of takedowns, but Gulibon prepared all week for
how he was going to handle adversity. He answered the bell with a strong finish
en route to a 9-4 victory and a spot in the NCAA semifinals against
third-seeded Cory Clark (Iowa).
"I feel like I have been wrestling pretty well," Gulibon said. "I think the
whole team is keeping the momentum going. Watching the other guys go out there
and win, it obviously gives me a boost to go out there and wrestle hard. I've
just tried to go out there and attack." Brown became the second Nittany Lion to earn a spot in the semifinals
with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against eighth-seeded Zach Epperly (Virginia
Tech). Brown took a 1-0 lead with an escape to open the second. He built 1:45
of riding time in the third before Epperly squared the match at 1-1 with an
escape. Brown held off Epperly's late takedown attempt in the final seconds to
earn a 2-1 with riding time for his second trip to the national semifinals in
The Lion veteran has had a smile on his face throughout the week in St. Louis.
Knowing this is his last opportunity to wear a Penn State singlet, Brown is wrestling
loose and with confidence at the national tournament. And through three
matches, he has been strong on the mat. Brown is yet to give up a takedown this
week (one reversal).
All eyes will be on his matchup against Iowa
veteran and third-seeded Mike Evans in the semifinals. Brown and Evans are no
strangers to one another. The Nittany Lion senior has beaten Evans twice this
year by the score of 2-0 (no takedowns from either wrestler in either match).
Evans scored a 5-4 tiebreaker victory over Brown in the NCAA quarterfinals last
The run through the main draw drew to a close for McCutcheon, McIntosh and
Lawson on Friday. McCutcheon fell in sudden victory (7-5) against Ohio State's
Kenny Courts. By the narrowest of margins, McIntosh fell just shy of being
awarded a takedown in the final seconds of a 3-2 decision against Duke's Conner
Hartmann. Lawson dropped an 11-3 major decision to top-seeded and defending
national champion Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State).
Session four begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The tournament semifinals
will take place on the inner two mats of a six-mat setup. Two additional rounds
of consolation action will also take place on the outer four mats.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (26-7) - 3-1
- Consolation Round of 12 Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. David
Tarao (American) 133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-7) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals
(All-American) Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3 Cory
174: #2 Matt Brown (27-3) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals (All-American) Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3
Mike Evans (Iowa)
184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-13) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12 Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 16 Tim Dudley (Nebraska) 197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-3) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12 Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 13 Shane Woods 285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-4) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12 Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 11 Devin Mellon
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony
Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
ST. LOUIS - Had it not been for two narrow sudden victory setbacks on Thursday
evening, the Nittany Lions would have been perfect on day one of the NCAA
Wrestling Championships inside Scottrade Center.
The four-time defending national champions tallied a stellar 12-2 mark on the first day
of competition, including a 5-2 record during the second round of the
championship draw. Jimmy Gulibon (133), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon
(184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will represent Penn State
in the national quarterfinals on Friday morning after winning twice on
Additionally, Jordan Conaway (125) and Zack Beitz (149) will wrestle in the
second round of the consolation bracket on Friday. All seven Nittany Lion
wrestlers have contributed to Penn State's 18.5 points following the first day
in St. Louis.
Thanks to another 2.0 bonus points on Thursday evening (6.5 for the day), the
Nittany Lions will head into Friday in a tie for third in the team
race. Penn State and Oklahoma State each have 18.5 points after two
sessions. Ohio State is first with 23 points.
Session II Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 23.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 21.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation) 3. Oklahoma State - 19.5 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation) 4. Penn State - 18.5 (5 Main Draw/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation) Nebraska - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation)
The story of day one in St. Louis can be told at 184 pounds for the Nittany
Lions. McCutcheon, a redshirt freshman, making his first appearance at the
national tournament looked like anything but a rookie on Thursday. After
scoring a dominant technical fall victory in round one, McCutcheon used a
takedown in the first sudden victory period to dispatch No. 3-seeded Blake
Stauffer from Arizona State by a count of 3-1.
"I was just wrestling my match, pulling the guy around and getting to my leg
attacks," McCutcheon said. "I knew I needed to finish better. I was in on him
two times, and I knew I needed to finish better and get into the quarters."
McCutcheon will wrestle in the quarterfinals against Ohio State's Kenny Courts
on Friday morning.
"It's been exciting, but I need to put this one in the past and get ready for the
next one," McCutcheon said.
McCutcheon's teammates are feeding off of the freshman's gritty attitude. Brown
and McIntosh had big grins on their faces when they embraced McCutcheon after
the victory. McIntosh marched into the quarterfinals with a 14-5 major decision
against Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker, but after his bout he took a moment to
reflect on the job McCutcheon has done.
"Bonus points are always important, and you always have to work hard to get
them," McIntosh said. "I was pumped up to go out there and wrestle after Matt
(McCutcheon) got his big win. It was awesome to see him out there."
Brown outscored his opponents by a count of 22-6 on Thursday. In the evening
session, the Nittany Lion senior jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Lehigh's
Santiago Martinez. And thanks to nearly three minutes of riding time, Brown
notched a workmanlike 10-2 major. Knowing it is his last opportunity to wrestle
at the national tournament, Brown is having fun in St. Louis.
"He seems pretty loose," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He is wrestling calm, and he has been
ready to go. I think that is important for him. It's important to go out there
and score points. The matches are going to get bigger, and the guy who wants to
go out there and score points is the one who is going to win."
In addition to Brown, McCutcheon and McIntosh, Gulibon and Lawson round out
Penn State's quarterfinalists. Gulibon rallied from 4-3 down to score an 8-4
decision thanks to a late four-point move against Utah Valley's Jade Rauser. Lawson
used two third-period takedowns to top Minnesota's Michael Kroells by a score
"(Lawson's) moving well, and I think this is the best we have seen him look,"
Sanderson said. "He's got a big match tomorrow against the returning national
Session three begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The
tournament quarterfinals will be up first before two rounds of consolation
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-7) - 1-1
- Consolation Second Round Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs.
Scott Parker (Lehigh)
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (24-7) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 2
Bradley Taylor (Wisconsin)
149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-10) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs.
No. 6 Alex Pantaleo (Michigan)
174: #2 Matt Brown (26-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 7
Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)
184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-12) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. Kenny
Courts (Ohio State)
197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No.
10 Connor Hartmann (Duke)
285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 1 Nick
Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State)
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on
ST. LOUIS - The
four-time defending national champion Nittany Lion wrestling team notched a
perfect first session at the 2015 NCAA Championships inside the Scottrade
Center on Thursday.
Bonus points were the theme of Penn State's superb start to the national
tournament. The Lions went 7-0 in first-round action, including four wins
featuring bonus points (three major decisions and one technical fall). Jordan
Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Zack Beitz (149), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon
(184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) all punched their tickets
into the second round of the bracket during the initial matches of the
Gulibon (11-3), Beitz (10-1) and Brown (12-4) each scored wins by virtue of
major decision, while McCutcheon (20-5 at 7:00) turned in a dominant technical
fall victory in his first ever match at the NCAA Championships.
Thanks to the unblemished record and 4.5 bonus points, the Nittany Lions will
head into Thursday's evening session in second spot with 11.5 tallies. Ohio
State is first with 13.5 points. Penn State is one of four teams with seven
wrestlers still alive in the main draw (Ohio State, Missouri and Oklahoma
Session I Team Standings (Main
Draw/Consolation) 1. Ohio State - 13.5 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
2. Penn State - 11.5 (7 Main Draw/0 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 11.0 (6 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
4. Missouri - 11.0 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
It was an impressive session for a pair of Nittany Lions who had never wrestled
in the NCAA Championships prior to Thursday. Beitz and McCutcheon looked
comfortable every second they were on the mat during their first bouts at the
"It was awesome," Beitz said. "I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to go
out there and wrestle at nationals for Penn State."
Beitz took a 2-0 lead after one against Shawn Greevy (Chattanooga), but he was
dominant in the second. The Mifflintown native scored a reversal to open the
frame before three near-fall points handed the sophomore a 7-0 lead. He never
looked back from there on his way to a 10-1 major.
"The one thing Coach Cael always says is keep going, going and going," Beitz
said. "That's what I want to keep trying to do, keep scoring points. And then
ride them tough and wear them out."
On the heels of a stout weekend at the Big Ten Championships, McCutcheon got
stronger as his match at 184 pounds against Nick Fiegener (Cal Poly). A pair of
back points late in the opening frame set the score at 7-3 when the first drew
to a close. The Nittany Lion redshirt freshman added two takedowns in the
second, including one right at the buzzer. McCutcheon marched to a seven-point
third period and notched a 20-5 technical fall.
"It feels good to get the first match out of the way," McCutcheon said. "I'm
ready to go. The coaches have me peaking at the right time, and I've just got
to keep it going."
With seven wrestlers in the lineup, the Nittany Lions knew how critical extra
points would be at the national tournament this year. Thus far, Penn State
wrestled with tremendous confidence, and it turned into four wins with extra
tallies. The Lions scored at least 10 points in five of the seven victories.
"Bonus points are huge here, and that is what is going through your mind when
you are out there," Beitz said. We just go out there with the mindset to score,
and then keep scoring."
The undefeated session sets up a host of critical second round matches on
"Our team realizes we are in this," McCutcheon said. "A lot of people are
counting us out. Our team has the mindset that we are here to win, so we are
going to go out there and score as many points as possible."
Session two begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. One round of
consolation action will take place before the Nittany Lions take the mat in the
second round. Jordan Conaway will be up first at 125 pounds.
Breaking Down the Nittany Lions
125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-6) - 1-0
- Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 6 Thomas
133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (23-7) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. Jade Rauser
149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-9) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 5 Chris
174: #2 Matt Brown (25-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15
Santiago Martinez (Lehigh)
184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (25-12) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 3 Blake
Stauffer (Arizona State)
197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (26-2) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15
Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)
285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (16-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 9 Michael
GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK,
Pa.- Cael Sanderson can't help but be a believer.
The head coach of
the Penn State wrestling team knows his team is in much different position
heading into the 2015 NCAA Championships than its been in the past few seasons.
After a fifth place finish in the Big Ten Tournament, the four-time defending
champion Nittany Lions will be heading into the biggest weekend of the year not
as the favorite, but as one of the underdogs.
And that's perfectly fine for Sanderson and his squad. While expectations may
not be the same for the Nittany Lions across the country, the Nittany Lions
desire to win has not been diminished in the slightest.
"I don't think my
perspective has necessarily changed," Sanderson said. "It's just a matter of
getting the kids to believe. I can see us winning, it's just a matter of doing
it, and not getting frustrated when things are not going our way because you've
got to make things go your way.
"I'm optimistic. I believe in the guys that we have going that they can get the
job done. Would it be a small miracle? Maybe, but I do believe in miracles."
Having qualified seven
out of 10 wrestlers for the tournament, the Lions will certainly have plenty of
work to do when the tournament kicks off on Thursday in St. Louis. Still, with
all seven wrestlers seeded in the top 16, Penn State will definitely have the
chance to make some noise.
At the very least,
each of Penn State's wrestlers will have a fighting chance to reach the top-eight
and earn All-American status. That being said, the Nittany Lions do take pride
in the team score and will take the mat looking to rack up bonus point to make
up for their lack of competitors.
"I'm excited. I
don't want to talk big but I think our guys have a chance to score a lot of
points," Sanderson said. "Is it going to be easy no, but can they do it, yeah."
It certainly won't
be easy, but then again, the Lions aren't looking for anything to be handed to
them. With the tournament kicking off in two days, here's a look at every Penn
125 Pounds: Junior Jordan Conaway (23-6, 11th
Seed, Third at B1G Tournament) Two years ago, Jordan
Conaway made a splash in his first NCAA Championships appearance, coming up one
win shy of becoming an All-American at 133 pounds.
Now competing at
125 after missing out on a starting spot last year, the Abbottstown,
Pennsylvania, native is determined to take that next step. Having claimed third
place in a brutally tough field at the Big Ten Tournament, Conaway seems to be
peaking at the right time.
"I'm just focused
on this year, I've been to this tournament before so I'm looking to do better
obviously," Conaway said. "We've wrestled our best as this tournament the past
few years, I don't see why this would be any different, and the same for me."
Sanderson has touted
the redshirt junior as someone he is expecting to breakout over the weekend.
With a 10-6 record this year against the NCAA field (including two wins and a
medical forfeit in the B1G Tournament) Conaway has proven he can beat top
It's something that
he'll have to prove early on as well. If the 125-pounder gets past the first
round, he'll likely get a second round match against Iowa's Thomas Gilman, a
grappler he's lost to by one point twice this season.
admitted he hasn't looked at the bracket, isn't shying away from another
rematch. One of the grittiest guys on the team, he knows he has to beat the
best to be the best.
"I honestly don't
look at the bracket, I just go out and wrestle," Conaway said. "We've had some
close matches and I just have to keep battling and this will be the time to win
133: Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (22-7, Seventh Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament) Perhaps no Penn
State wrestler has improved more dramatically from last season to this season
than Jimmy Gulibon.
A year after the
highly touted recruit finished an up-and-down freshman year by going 1-2 in his
first NCAA Tournament appearance, the 133-pounder has looked like a legit contender
for much of this season, finishing the dual meet season schedule with a 13-2
While he finished sixth
at the conference tournament despite winning his first two meets, Gulibon is
still 12-7 this year against the 133-field and 9-6 against ranked opponents. He
enters the tournament with an excellent chance to claim his first All-American
One potential match
to look forward to is Gulibon's second round bout, which will be against
Lehigh's Mason Beckman if both wrestlers advance. In the two team's season
opening match, Gulibon beat Beckman, who was ranked second at the time, 8-3.
"I can't be complacent
and stay back and try to hold a lead. I have to keep wrestling," Gulibon said.
"I was a little upset with my performance last year. This year, I'd like to get
out there and keep attacking."
149: Sophomore Zack Beitz (18-9,12th Seed, Fifth at B1G Tournament) One of two Nittany
Lions making their NCAA Tournament debuts this weekend, Beitz may be the least
heralded wrestler Penn State is sending. That being said, the redshirt
sophomore is another guy that appears to be hitting his stride the last month.
A scrapper that has
always had a knack for giving top opponents all they can handle, Beitz has
recently shown the ability to finish off ranked guys. An impressive pin over
fourth ranked Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State as well as a fifth place finish at
the conference tournament has raised his profile.
Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, native is looking to show he belongs at the national
level. While he originally saw time in Penn State's lineup last year as an
injury replacement for Andrew Alton, Beitz has proved he can be a starter, and
an impressive performance this weekend would enhance his reputation even more.
To do it, the 12th-seeded Beitz will have to make sure he doesn't look his past his first round
opponent, Shawn Greevy of Chattanooga. A win there could set up a matchup with
Cornell's Chris Villalonga, the fifth seed and one of the top contenders in the
"Being at the national tournament is something you train
for and look forward to all year long," Beitz said. "This is why we wrestle.
This is the tournament that means so much to all of us. The biggest thing is to
go out there with great focus and know what your goals are."
174: Senior Matt Brown (24-3, Second Seed, Second at B1G Tournament) It's hard to
imagine any competitor being more determined than Matt Brown is right now.
The Penn State
captain has accomplished nearly everything a wrestler can in his four-year
career. He's got over 100 career victories, won an individual conference title,
been to the national finals and claimed All-American honors twice.
All that remains
now is that elusive national championship. Brown enters his final NCAA Championships
as the No. 2 seed at his weight, yet he knows a trip to the finals won't come
As usual, the 174-bracket is brutally tough, with nobody in the top nine having
lost more than six times this season. Having finished fifth last year after
coming up just one win short of a title in 2013, Brown knows better than anyone
that the field is wide open.
competitive bracket, I think they'll be a lot of good matchups,' Brown said. "I
think I'm just going into this weekend knowing the NCAA tournament is a lot of
fun. I know it's exciting but it's nothing that I should be intimidated of or
Brown begins the
weekend with a 10-3 season record against tournament qualifiers, with two of
those loses coming against the top seed, undefeated Robert Kokesh of Nebraska.
Having lost to him
in the finals of the Big Ten tournament, Brown would love a third shot at the
Cornhusker. At the same time, he has a long road to get there and the Nittany
Lion All-American wants to savor every moment on the mat he has left.
"I think I'll
reflect when it's over, knowing my days in a Penn State singlet are numbered,"
Brown said. "I'm excited though, it's fun. It's what we train for. It's not
what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it's what I want to do now."
184: Freshman Matt McCutcheon (23-12, 14th Seed, Fourth at B1G
Tournament) Penn State's lone
freshmen qualifier, Matt McCutcheon is hoping the momentum he picked up at the
Big Ten Championships carries over into this weekend.
While he went just
7-8 during the dual meet season, the redshirt freshman really began to flash
his potential in the conference tournament, going 3-1 with his last two
victories coming against top-15 opponents, including a 9-1 major of Nebraska's
T.J. Dudley in the fourth place bout.
As impressive as
McCutcheon's performance there was, now is when the challenge really begins.
Not unlike many of his teammates, the 184-pounder has a tough second round
opponent, with Arizona State's third seeded Blake Stauffer (31-1) most likely
waiting for him if he can get past his first match.
has the confidence of Sanderson, who believes his first-year wrestler has the
confidence and skill to perform on the sport's grandest stage.
"I thought the best he's
looked was at the Big Ten [Championships]," Sanderson said. "His best shots,
his strongest finishes, more than anything just the best look he's had in his
eye. I think he's going to wrestle with some fire."
197 Pounds: Junior Morgan McIntosh (26-2, Second Seed, First at B1G Tournament)
wrestling, it's generally thought that if you can win in the Big Ten, you can
probably win against anyone. If so, Morgan McIntosh could very well be in line
to claim his first individual national title this weekend.
A year after he
earned his first All-American nod, McIntosh entered the current season with
huge expectations and plenty of responsibility on his shoulders. Having just
blazed his way to his first conference title, the junior is clearly living up
to his reputation as Penn State's next leader and star.
Currently riding an
11-match winning streak that includes victories over five top-10 opponents,
McIntosh has never looked better than he has since the start of the new year.
Nonetheless, he has refused to get complacent.
As one of the
team's captains, McIntosh knows he needs to not only win, but also get bonus
points if Penn State is going to make any noise in the team race. Even after
winning the Big Ten, he still hasn't been satisfied with his performance.
"It's not like a
huge giant breakthrough for me, I've always known that I'm capable of [winning
the conference tournament]," McIntosh said. "It was nice to get there and win
that, but there's other things to worry about. There's always opportunites to
score more and other things I could of done but I can still work on it."
While a lot can
certainly happen in the tournament and nothing is set in stone, a trip to the
finals for McIntosh could likely mean a matchup with top-ranked J'Den Cox of
Missouri, last year's 197-pound national champion and a guy who hasn't lost all
When the two
wrestlers faced off at the Southern Scuffle at the beginning of January, Cox
won a low-scoring 2-1 match. Though he knows he can compete with the Tiger
wrestler, McIntosh is more focused on winning each of his bouts by a large
margin to bolster the team score than he is on preparing himself for a rematch.
"When you think
about the team and all the guys around you, you do wrestle harder," McIntosh said.
"I definitely feel like that. I don't want to win just for me. I want to win
for the team. I've got great guys around me, they've all been working hard and
I just want to go out there and score points."
285: Senior Jimmy Lawson (15-3, Eighth Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament) By now, facing
adversity is as common to Jimmy Lawson as putting on a singlet or trying to
score a takedown.
to Penn State in 2013, the Toms River, New Jersey, native has had so many
setbacks it's been hard to keep track.
First, there was
the personally disappointing 1-2 showing at his first NCAA Tournament. Then
came the devastating knee injury that ended his 2014 season, followed by
various ailments this year that prevented him from sustaining momentum. That's
not to mention his three-year battle with Jon Gingrich for the starting
heavyweight spot, something that would have been too much pressure for many to
None of that
matters anymore. With his final college tournament days away, Lawson is finally
the Lions undisputed guy at 285 and has one more chance to become an
"I embraced the
competition," Lawson said. "Jon's one of the best heavyweights in the nation
and when you practice against someone like that you get better. I think coming
to Penn State was the best opportunity to get better fast. It forced me to work
harder every day. I've been more aggressive this year and I feel confident I
can win a national title."
While Lawson is on
the other side of the bracket than the two wrestlers who beat him this year,
Iowa's Bobby Telford and Michigan's Adam Coon, he still will have plenty of
difficult opponents to face. If Lawson wins his first two matches, he could
easily face No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State with a birth in the
semifinals on the line.
But that's all way
ahead in the future and out of his control. For a guy who's gone through so
much, Lawson is looking at this weekend as a chance to simply have some fun.
"You don't really
feel pressure at this stage of the game," Lawson said. "If don't wrestle
confident you're going to fail because everyone's going 100 percent. I'm not
really feeling pressure I'm just excited. It's a great opportunity. I haven't
been here in two years so I'm excited."